By Debbie le Quesne

Beware explosive material: Drugs rationing for elderly

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Bloggers, campaigners for older people, Tweeters, the aged and young are making their voices heard over the latest drug criteria being tabled for the elderly.

Frankly, I’m not surprised. It’s not often I lose sleep, but I found my mind in overdrive in the small hours of this morning thinking about how the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) is due to change the way decides which drugs can be provided.

The consideration criteria: The wider “societal benefits” and, of course, cost.

Simply put: If you’re old and don’t contribute a lot, you’re not going to get the pills.

Comments on the interenet this morning range from the “Department of Death (not Health)”, “genocide”, “sentenced to die” and “minimal treatment” to referenced to Hitler.

Emotive language, indeed. We all know that drugs have been rationed by stealth for a long time and consultants’ budgets can rule over life or death. But they are decisions taken professionally and there’s no formal framework of reference – or at least I’m not aware of one.

What makes me so cross it that now we are formalising this decision-making process. This is oh so dangerous and I’m amazed it has made its way through the mechanics of Whitehall without someone saying: Stop!

Melissa Kite, writing for the Mail online sums it up admirably. “It is not just that the elderly have worked all their lives, paid their taxes and should expect, in any civilised society, to be cared for once they are no longer ‘productive’.

It is simply, to me, morally unacceptable to quantify a sick person’s suitability for treatment based on their possible use to society.”


If we hold to any Christian belief, the sanctity of life is paramount. And if we are agnostic or atheist, the same should be the case.

There’s a new phrase – “heath tourism” – where people from other countries arrived in the UK with the express purpose of falling ill and getting treatment. Maybe we should be addressing issues like this before we start writing off our older people.

This debate is going to run and run . . . and if I could set the clock on my own life, I’d choose to live to ripe old age just to spite these policy makers.


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